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Weight loss, diabetes, and heart disease: What you need to know

Two compelling reasons to stay on top of blood sugar and weight management: Although weight loss can help prevent type 2 diabetes, a new study says that once you have diabetes, losing weight won't lower your risk for heart disease (the number one cause of death for diabetics). At the same time, balancing your blood sugar can help with weight management, even if you're not at risk for diabetes. 

I saw a new study that confused and concerned me. The title was, “Weight loss does not lower heart disease risk from type 2 diabetes.”

Here’s the lowdown: For several years, the National Intitute of Health’s diabetes-focused branch (NIDDK) studied more than 5,000 overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes across the United States—assigning half to an “intensive lifestyle intervention” (diet and exercise) and half to a diabetes education program. As you’d expect, the intervention group lost more weight (8 percent after one year, maintaining about 5 percent over four years) as opposed to just 1 percent for the diabetes education group.
 
And although the intervention group experienced health benefits—less sleep apnea, less need for diabetes medications and more mobility and quality of life—there was no drop in cardiovascular events, the biggest cause of death for type 2 diabetics, researchers said.
 
Why does it matter? By the time people have type 2 diabetes, it may be too late to avoid its most serious negative effects. This isn’t true for overweight and obese adults who are at high risk for diabetes, said NIDDK director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers: “Modest weight loss has been shown to prevent or delay developing type 2 diabetes." In other words, weight loss is key to prevention, but can't offset some of the most serious results of type 2 diabetes once you already have it. 

Plus, balancing blood sugar helps with weight management (by reducing overeating from blood sugar crashes and reducing fat storage in the body)—even if you're not at risk for diabetes.

Prediabetes is woefully undiagnosed—79 million adults over age 20 have it, says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)—so a good first step for those with risk factors is getting your levels tested. Then be sure to follow these tips to keep your blood sugar in check. 

Do you or family member struggle with high blood sugar levels? What do you do to help balance your blood sugar? Please share in comments.

 

 

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